Category Archives: Reviews
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation 4*, PC (Steam), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
*The PS4 Pro Version was used to review this game
Thank you, Koei Tecmo for providing a review copy!
Of all the various crossovers, anime tie-ins, and original musou franchises Omega Force has developed over the years none have quite caught my attention the way that the “Warriors Orochi” series has. The concept of the coolest warriors from the Three Kingdoms period of China and the Warring States period of Japan coming together to fight mythical creatures, gods, and sometimes demons just sounded so ridiculously silly that I couldn’t resist trying them out. Little did I know that this series would bolster more characters, weapons, and over the top attacks than any other musou game. Two console generations, a few sequels and repackages later and Warriors Orochi 4 is hot on our doorstep. Does it stack up to its predecessors? Today we’re going to find out.
As previously mentioned, this series has been known for its rather ludicrously goofy and unrealistic storylines that always manage to top the previous one in terms of scale. The last game had both the heroes of the Three Kingdoms and Warring States periods respectively defeat the evil serpent king Orochi and save the mystic world, only to be transported back to their own worlds having their memories of the event wiped in the process as not to affect the flow of time. This time, the gods of olympus have plucked the heroes back into a mysterious world that merges bits and pieces of each world together. With the servants of Orochi appearing once again, the heroes set out to solve the mystery of why the gods have summoned them to this magical realm. In terms of quality, it’s a pretty average story. It was chock full of fanservice and enjoyable moments, which kept it from ever being a grind. It manages to give everyone a little bit of screen time and with a 100+ character roster that is quite the feat.
Warriors Orochi 4 is exactly equal to the recently reviewed “Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada” seeing as how it runs on the exact same engine with no visual upgrades whatsoever. The frame rate stays at about a 45-50 FPS average at up-scaled 4K resolution. It doesn’t have any of the frame rate issues found in the launch version of “Dynasty Warriors 9”. The character models are nice and all of the new levels are easy on the eyes and have very vibrant color schemes.
This iteration of the Orochi series has easily the widest variety of music. In addition to the remixes and songs from each of the “Dynasty Warriors” and “Samurai Warriors” series, the original songs created for Warriors Orochi 4 are spectacular. A lot of the orchestration uses the heavy hitting piano chords found in something like “Kingdom Hearts” and that’s an easy way to win me over. Most of the sound effects and noise queues are taken from other musou games. There’s nothing great but nothing to complain about either.
As with most musou games, the combat is a fairly simple hack and slash with various combos and extenders being unlocked as you play through the story. Orochi 4 adds an interesting magic system. In addition to your musou (special attack) meter, the magic meter is a second bar you have to manage which allows you to combat new enemy types which can only be damaged by magic attacks. It makes the combat a little bit more dynamic as you have to manage what attacks are for what enemy. It also allows you to instantly summon your horse so you do not have to deal with awkward pathfinding AI as with the last games that made you call your horse and wait for it to find you. It’s actually quite a nice improvement and helps traversing around the map a lot smoother.
If every musou game had as much content as this game does, there wouldn’t be half as many complaints against these games by the fans. Warriors Orochi 4 has the largest roster in the entire history of any musou game, as well as a huge array of stages. One complaint is that 90 percent of the stages are combined stages from previous games and it reuses a good bit of content from previous games in the series. However, it’s not a huge issue. Between the story mode which takes roughly 20 hours with another 2 or 3 of side missions, there’s a lot of replay ability with bonus objectives and extra difficulties added in the post game. On top of this, there is a 3v3 PVP mode you can play online that reminds me a lot of the versus game mode from “Dynasty Warriors 3”. It had some netcode issues early on in my play through but on the second day I went back they were patched so it won’t be a problem for launch.
As a fan of musou games, it would be impossible for me not to recommend this game to people who might be curious about the series or veterans looking for their next button mashing fix. While more than half of the stages are lifted from the games they were originally from, a fun story, great music, and enjoyable frantic combat makes Warriors Orochi 4 a must have for any fan of these characters or franchises.
Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studio
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 2nd
ESRB Rating: M
Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise is a crossover between Fist of the North Star and SEGA’s Yakuza series. A crossover in terms of gameplay. You are thrown into the Fist of the North Star Universe with the flare of everything the Yakuza series has to offer. As a fan of both series, the combination of the two is something that I never thought I had wanted. How did the crossover fair? Is it a standout title in the genre of anime video games, or is this game already dead?
Developer: Soleil Ltd.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: Playstation 4/Xbox One/PC (Steam)*
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date: August 31st, 2018
*The PC Version was used for this review
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker is the first home console Naruto game to be released outside of the “Ultimate Ninja Storm” series since 2010. It does away the traditional three on three battle system popularized in the Storm games and introduces a new multiplayer oriented format that pits teams of four players against each other in a “Dragon Ball Xenoverse” esque hubworld. Does this game manage to prove that the series has legs to stand on outside of the Ultimate Ninja games? Today, we chakra dash right in and take a look.
The story in Shinobi Striker is extremely slim and only serves to set up the various missions and online modes. There is a short explanation that the leaf village is hosting a “Ninja World Tournament” and that everyone who is worth anything is training to try and become the best ninja around. This leads into the singleplayer and multiplayer modes after a short tutorial. The only other aspects of a story are the short cutscenes before or during missions that can introduce boss battles or have short character interactions setting up for the task at hand.
This game shines surprisingly well in the graphical department. The well crafted cell shading coupled with the great Unreal Engine 4 particles creates quite the visual spectacle in the middle of teamfights. All of the moves from the source material are done perfectly and translate really well to the 4v4 player versus player format without it being too over stimulating visually. As for the optimization aspect of things I was able to play at a 4K resolution with mostly 60FPS on max settings on an AMD FX-8370 and a GTX 970 respectively during the course of my playthrough.
While there isn’t any way for Soleil to copy some of the more memorable tracks from the anime, they did a bang up job at crafting tracks that immerse you in Naruto’s deeply crafted world. Most tracks keep the adrenaline pumping while not being too outstanding or distracting from the fight. The sound design does a good job of capturing the feeling from the anime, with most of the sound effects being directly pulled from it. Other than that there isn’t much to say about the audio aspects of the game.
-Sample of the Soundtrack-
Easily being the strongest thing this game has going for it, Shinobi Striker’s gameplay is a satisfying though sometimes frustrating experience. It plays like a beat em up more than an actual fighting game, with most game modes having objectives other than just defeating your opponents. There are four roles to pick from for your team with each having specific bonuses or abilities to contribute to the fight. Having a good balance is vital to your victory. The non PVP modes found in the game are the same four to five AI scenarios in which you either defend a target, fight off multiple enemies, or gather items as quickly as you can. They aren’t bad by any standard but they feel more akin to an MMO mission format versus a full retail release. The giant battles you’ll commonly fight yourself in are usually easy to keep track of and combat feels light and responsive. The camera is sometimes unresponsive when it comes to tracking enemies in the middle of the fight which can be very disorienting. While I had no issues with the online connectivity or getting into lobbies, the only other big problem I encountered was the balancing in the online lobby matchmaking. Most of the time one team would have a collection of low level players while the enemy team would be stacked with the higher level ones, which leads to an unfair playing ground due to the weapons and cosmetic you earn have effects on your in game stats. Despite a few setbacks, the combat is very fun and fulfills all your multiplayer Naruto fantasies.
Here is where Shinobi Striker starts to hurt the most. The amount of stages can be counted on both hands. While they’re big, they start to become very repetitive when you play online. The “Story” can be completed in roughly 10 hours with the few post game missions unlocked taking another 5 hours or so. There really is not a lot of content to experience after you beat the game. This would be acceptable if there was more content for the multiplayer side of things but both the amount of levels and the progression systems are both lacking. The character customization on the other hand is actually quite nice with a good amount of options to choose from and the mentor system allows you to learn a good number of techniques to use in battle.
Shinobi Striker is a game with a solid foundation that just needs more of everything. The combat is great, and the customization options are plenty but a lack of game modes and unbalanced matchmaking create a sometimes frustrating experience. A lacking progression system and little to no post game content bring down what could have been a great game. Hopefully, it will receive the polish and content it needs post launch but as of now it isn’t worth full price.
Developer: HONEY∞PARADE GAMES
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: M
A Review Copy Was Provided by XSEED for the Purpose of Review
Senran Kagura: Reflexions is a new take on the Senran Kagura franchise. This iteration of the franchise is a bit different from the others.It’s set with Asuka trapped in an illusion and she needs your help with getting out of it.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software USA
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: M
A Review Copy Was Provided by Nippon Ichi Software USA for the Purpose of Review
It’s always interesting to see companies branch out from what they normally do. Granted, NIS has been branching out for the past few years to a point where the only real current staple series they have is: Disgaea and for being known for having some needlessly complex systems. some games. Unfortunately, this review isn’t about the marriage of these two things as Disgaea in some ways can be considered complex on its own. Instead, this is about NIS adding needlessly complex systems to a genre they’re unfamiliar with.
Publisher: SEGA USA
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One
ESRB Rating: T
A Review Copy Was Provided by SEGA USA for the Purpose of Review
Valkyria Chronicles is honestly one of my favorite IPs by SEGA. This tactical JRPG mixes my love of strategic gameplay, World War II and engrossing narratives to create a mix of game that I can not help but fall in love with. Finally after nearly eight years, western fans have a chance to delve into a Valkyria Chronicles game again. For those of you confused as to why isn’t this Valkyria Chronicles 3, Valkyria Chronicles 3 was a PSP exclusive that sadly was never officially localized for an English release. That said I am glad that the fourth entry has been able to make its way over.
Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Platform: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E
Release Date: June 22nd, 2018
Thank you, Nintendo for providing a review copy!
Mario Tennis Aces is the most recent in Nintendo’s line of Mario sports spinoff games. After the mediocre reception of “Mario Tennis Ultra Smash” on the Wii U, Camelot Software has attempted to rekindle what made the earlier games in the series enjoyable while also adding a modern touch and new mechanics. Do they achieve the harmonious balance between the two? Today we dive in and take a look for ourselves.
The story in Tennis Aces is… well its something. On one hand it has very creative and fun boss battles, and on the other hand it tries to tell you a story about a secret kingdom of tennis player and a demon possessed magical tennis racket. Yes, you heard that right. In a very Mario fashion, Wario and Waluigi are up to no good and come across a haunted tennis racket containing an ancient tennis spirit who wants to take over the world. As per tradition in Mario games, you’ll go from world to world, playing tennis matches and gathering the five infinity ge-….I mean “Tennis Stones” that grant the magic racket power so you can take him down. It’s silly, nonsensical, and honestly forgettable. It is not the worst story mode I’ve played in a sports game by any means, but Camelot would not be winning any writing awards for sure.
Tennis Aces features a very vibrant color palette and great technical performance as any Mario sports game should. Some of the effects on special attacks look particularly good despite there being no antialiasing in the game. One weird visual design choice I noticed is the framerate going down from locked 60 fps to a locked 30 fps anytime you stop moving on the Adventure mode story map. Not a negative to the game by any means, but it did take some getting used to. The courts have a wide variety of visual styles and greatly help with making tennis seem a lot more visually stunning than it actually is.
Most of the music found in Aces is your typical generic Mario fanfare. Most of the tracks are upbeat songs that occasionally coincide with the court you are playing on. None of the songs in the soundtrack were particularly bad but most of them just tend to blend in with the backdrop of the level instead of separating itself from it. The sound effects consist of your usual classic mushroom kingdom sound effects but there are a few sound effects such as the special shot that have a very good impact sound and make you really know you either did a good thing or messed up terribly.
-Sample of the Soundtrack-
Gameplay is this games biggest strength. It has the perfect skill ceiling for anyone to be able to pick up the game and have a good time while rewarding players who sink a fair number of time into the game. New mechanics introduced add a ton of depth to the gameplay formula. With the ability to eliminate someone from the game by breaking their tennis racket, matches truly become fights with players having to balance keeping their racket’s health from getting low and returning special attacks sent at them. Zone speed allows players to use some of their special meter to slow down time to allow for better saves and ball returns. These abilities create situations that are almost as fun to watch as they are to play. The only major issue the gameplay has is found in its Adventure mode. During the second half of the story, the courses and enemies become less about the A.I getting increasingly better and more about introducing unfair mechanics that rubber band enemies to beating you with seemingly nothing you can do. It’s honestly one of the craziest spikes in difficulty I’ve seen in a long time.
While Aces manages to easily beat out the amount of content found in “Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash”, it is not by much. A Story mode called “Adventure” has returned for the first time since the Gameboy iteration of the series. It’s very short, clocking at about 5-6 hours in total including the bonus levels. There is no post game single player content or modes besides local play which is a huge bummer for anyone playing on the go or without an internet connection. There is a mode called “Swing Mode” but all it amounts to being is a basic vs mode with sometimes poorly functioning motion controllers. The majority of your time after you beat Story mode will be spent in the online modes which are not too bad but also do not offer a ton of variety. You have your basic “Play with friends” mode and your average casual online matchmaking. One fun addition is the tournament mode, which allow you to rake up online ranking points by playing in Smash-esque bracketed tournaments. If you get eliminated you can hop right back in at any time with a new tournament, as they are always going on. A nice bonus from playing this is you will unlock new characters added in monthly updates early for playing these modes. Unfortunately, aside from tournament mode there no fun mini games or non-vanilla tennis modes to play with online friends. The character and court roster are decently sized this time around, with 15+ characters and 7 courts with 1 night variation to choose from. More characters will be added with free updates for the next 3 months which is a nice touch.
Mario Tennis Aces is certainly a step in the right direction for the series. A short story mode, weird enemy difficulty scaling and lack of single player options keep it from being worth the full price game it’s being sold for. With that being said; fantastic gameplay, a great roster, and decent online functionality make this definitely one of the best iterations in the series.
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Platform: PS4, PC
Release Date: September 3rd
A Review Copy Was Provided by Spike Chunsoft
It’s been a long time coming, but 428 Shibuya Scramble finally makes its way westward after its initial release in Japan almost 10 years ago on the Nintendo Wii. Now on PS4 and PC, the west gets a chance to see why people have been clamoring for this title.
Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studio
Platform(s):PlayStation 4 (Played on PS4 Pro)
ESRB Rating: M
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
SEGA seems to be on a roll with the Yakuza series as of late. This year, western fans have been graced with Yakuza 6 the Song of Life, the series debut onto PC, and the Yakuza X Fist of the North Star crossover localization announcement. Now today, we take a look at the second entry in the “Kiwami” remakes of Yakuza games, Yakuza Kiwami 2. Just like Yakuza Kiwami, Kiwami 2 is a groundup remake of the original PS2 classic Yakuza 2, this time made in the Dragon Engine. How does this remake of the original Yakuza 2 hold up, and does this game paint an interesting picture of the future of the Yakuza series?
Platforms:PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed on Both)
Release Date:August 24th, 2018
ESRB Rating: E
Little Dragons Cafe is the latest brainchild of Story of Seasons creator, Yasuhiro Wada, and is an attempt by the looks of it to return to his Bokujo roots. Yasuhiro Wada has had a checkered past of game releases since he left Marvelous. One needs to look no further than his first non Story of Seasons attempt Hometown Story, a game that left a lot of fans disappointed. Now he looks to be trying again with Little Dragons Cafe to try and recapture that initial magic, so how does he do?